Improved Cancer Targeting by Multimerizing Aptamers on Nanoscaffolds

Marjan Omer, Veronica Liv Andersen, Jesper Sejrup Nielsen, Jesper Wengel, Jørgen Kjems*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aptamers are short single-stranded oligonucleotides selected to bind with high affinity and specificity to a target. In contrast to antibodies, aptamers can be produced in large-scale in vitro systems without the need for any biological agents, making them highly attractive as targeting ligands for bioimaging and drug delivery. For in vivo applications it is often desirable to multimerize the aptamers in order to increase their binding strength and overall specificity. Additional functionalities, such as imaging and therapeutic agents, as well as pharmacokinetic modifiers, need to be attached in a stoichiometric fashion. Herein, we present a robust method for assembly of up to three aptamers and a fluorophore in a single well-defined nanostructure. The process is entirely modular and can be applied to any aptamer requiring only a single reactive “click handle.” Multimerization of two aptamers, A9g and GL21.T, previously shown to target cancer cells, led to a strong increase in cell uptake. A similar effect was observed for the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeting A9g aptamer in mice where multivalent aptamer binding led to increased tumor specificity. Altogether, this method provides a platform for multimerization of aptamers with advantages in terms of combinatorial screening capacity and multifunctional design of nanomedicine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids
Pages (from-to)994-1003
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Aptamer multimerization
  • Axl Receptor Tyrosine Kinase
  • Cancer-specific aptamers
  • modified oligonucleotides
  • Modular theranostic platforms
  • Nucleic acid-based nanoscaffold
  • prostate cancer
  • Prostate-specific memrane antigen
  • Tumor targeting


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